Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
– Matthew 26.49/50
Matthew records Jesus calling Judas “friend” as he is betraying him into execution. Friend. It wasn’t Judas’ actions that made him Jesus’ friend, but Jesus’ own way of seeing him. Nothing Judas could do would have the ability to alter how Jesus saw him. That is freedom.
When someone hurts me, I quickly become blind to everything about them except their ability to wound. It enslaves me to a darkness; an inability to see wholly. And rather than address my lack of vision, I behave as if I’ve already seen enough. What's so good about Good Friday is we’re shown how Jesus was free from this. Judas’ betrayal had absolutely no control over His personal disposition or internal condition. That is freedom.
We confuse freedom with getting, behaving, and feeling however we want at any given moment. What we fail to see is how devoid that lifestyle is of freedom. It reduces our consciousness (the greatest tool of humanity) to an appendage. It leaves us lifeless and thrown about by the utterly chaotic whim of our emotions, when we are so much more than that. We become isolated, condescending, and arrested in development; like an orange tree unable to mature enough to produce oranges.
Jesus brings us a present and radical freedom. Most of us are bound to seeing people and circumstances according to a self-centered value system: Good to me = I’m good to you; bad to me = I’m bad to you. When someone presses the wrong buttons, we spit out bitterness as reliably as a vending machine spits out snacks. It is not freedom. It is mechanical and hopeless.
We’re more than emotional vending machines. What’s so good about Good Friday is Jesus reveals to us that we are able to be free. Free from bitterness. Free from fear. And most importantly, free to Love.